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Writing a Cover Letter

Structure

Since your resume highlights the bullet points of your skills and experience, the cover letter is a way to provide a potential employer with greater insight into you as an individual. Cover letters are commonly tailored to each job posting; however, there are some common elements to consider:

  • Date
  • Your name and address
  • Your potential employers name and address
  • Salutation or greeting followed by a colon (:)
  • Body:
    • State how you heard about the position and why you are applying
    • Focus on the potential employer and how your skills would work well with their work and mission
    • Inform the potential employer that you would like to follow up with them to discuss an interview (how and when)
  • Closing, name typed and signed
  • “Enclosure” added at the bottom of the page to indicate your resume and references, etc. are also enclosed

Content

The cover letter provides a context for your resume and/or the application. As you are writing, be sure to share your excitement about the organization’s work and the particular job to which you are applying. Explain why you and the employment opportunity are well-aligned and compatible. Showcase the ways in which your artistic background may be used in the workplace. For example, a performer having unique presentation skills would be comfortable in front of a crowd. A cover letter would explain how these skills might be used in the workplace in workshop presentations, working with partners or selling ideas. Similarly, a writer may focus on his ability to craft a story for marketing materials or grant proposals, while a designer may stress her ability to organize complex ideas into a clear, aesthetically pleasing graphic.

For a personal touch, try to identify the individual responsible for hiring. If you are able, address your letter to him or the name listed in the job posting. Potential employers appreciate the extra effort that you took to personalize your letter. Think of ways to include information about the company in your cover letter. Visit the company website to gain additional oversights and facts. Employers generally appreciate applicants who can demonstrate some fundamental knowledge about their organization, products and/or their services.

Once you’ve written the letter, consider rereading it to make sure that it sounds appropriate and your voice is present throughout. You may want to ask a close friend or relative to read it as well. It’s always a good idea to have several people review what you have written to identify easy to overlook punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors.

If you find yourself stumped about where to begin or need a template to get you started, consider doing an online search for common examples of cover letters. There are a number of good ones out there that can be tailored to fit your specific need. 

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